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The 10 Best Books With Gay Main Characters You Should Have Read Already By Now!

The 10 Best Books With Gay Main Characters You Should Have Read Already By Now!

Gay characters and instances of queer representation have been taking up headlines at a surprisingly regular rate for the last few years, and often for not the most positive reasons. Entire movies like ‘Strange World’ and ‘Lightyear’ have bombed and had their lack of success attributed to their queer representation, regardless of whether this factor was due to the actual characters or simply audience reactions.

But how does the scene for queer characters look in the writing world, where things are less sensationalized, and the content stays viable for longer? It can definitely be said that gay characters in literature have an easier time with the opposition than those in film, given that books adhere closer to their individual niches and are marketed less strongly, but their variety and prominence have come to rise and fall over the years.

In the times of ancient Greek and Roman literature, it was relatively common to have queer themes and characters, but the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages that came after it removed that factor from the mainstream of literature almost entirely.

Gay Main Characters Books - best Books With Gay Main Characters - Books With Gay Main Characters

However, the biggest upswings in queer characters in modern times came with the Renaissance and the Stonewall Riots. Both of these events gave the literary world a fresh burst of liberty and freedom of expression and fueled the strength of queer fiction that we have today. 

Much like the horizon of related rights movements and LGBT representation in the public eye, post-Stonewall queer literature has expanded wide and far throughout culture – bringing aspects of fantasy, horror, and adventure genres to great effect. After all, what screams queer more than variety and creativity?

Particularly strong as of this decade is the presence of queer themes in young adult novels, also known in short as YA. A surprising amount of modern classics have come from the mass of books written for youths, and that number seems ever on the rise.

With that said, get out your fanfic writing skills, get ready to dive into the fiction’s lives, and read through our top ten books with gay main characters!

Late afternoon we head west along the willow-banked

Malheur after the long curve of the Snake River plain.

(Above the falls where the Shoshone went to pray

we soaked our feet in cold water, and I observed

the arch of her brown foot.) Rabbitbrush and sage

along the highway, juniper on far hills and bluffs.

Sundown, and dusk falls over the wide basin of land.

In Burns we eat eggs in a cafe, take a room

in the Motel 6. In the dark, I can see

her black hair, black against the pillows. Its clean

scent makes me think of corn. At dawn, I hold her

and there are kisses. Then more kisses. Then more.

The day is cold; a north wind blew last night. But

the land is open. Rain falls in showers of light.

From Six Sonnets: Crossing the West by Janice Gould
Queer Literature

Don't have time to read them all? Why not try listening to them? Audible is a great platform for listening to audiobooks because it offers a wide selection of books, including bestsellers and exclusive content. With Audible, you can listen to your favorite books on-the-go, whether you're commuting, working out, or doing household chores.

The Audible app also has features like adjustable narration speed, a sleep timer, and the ability to create bookmarks, making it easy to customize your listening experience. Additionally, Audible offers a membership program that gives members access to a certain number of audiobooks per month, making it a cost-effective option for avid listeners. 

A great resource for people who want to maximize their time and make the most out of their daily activities. Try a free 30-day trial from Audible today, and you'll get access to a selection of Audible Originals and audiobooks, along with a credit to purchase any title in their premium selection, regardless of price (including many of the books on this list!) 

For ebook lovers, we also recommend Scribd, basically the Netflix for Books and the best and most convenient subscription for online reading. While they have a catalog comprising over half a million books including from many bestselling authors, for some of the books on this list, you'll still have to purchase individually - either as a paperback or eBook to load on your Kindle - due to publishing house restrictions. 

Gay Main Characters Books - best Books With Gay Main Characters - Books With Gay Main Characters

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a true classic – albeit a non-conventional one. Released in 2010 amongst the first true waves of queer YA fiction taking hold and gaining popularity, the book follows the tale of two very different Will Grayson and their fateful meeting one cold night on the streets of Chicago. 

What follows from there is the close, inseparable intertwining of the two’s lives and a deep exploration of both of their lives. The first, Will Grayson, is a high school student struggling to survive as a young queer man without drawing attention and hates himself, but the second, Will Grayson’s background is much less uncomplicated.

His coincidental encounter with his name-twin while meeting with an internet friend may have been the catalyst of the two meetings, but it is only the start of a long spiral that continues higher and higher in tension, emotion, and dedication throughout the entire book span.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson’s greatest touch, comes from the fact that it is intimately human and draws upon the very spirit of what makes us individual people to come to its ultimate conclusion. The merit of this quality is not exactly unrepresented in the book’s representation, either.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson was the recipient of an incredibly impressive array of awards, including a nomination for the Stonewall Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and the Odyssey Award in 2011, on top of a nomination for the Goodreads Choice Award in 2010.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - Best Books With Gay Main Characters

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The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Seventeen-year-old Cal thought that he was entirely fine with sharing his life online. It is his whole thing, after all. Despite his ripe young age, he’s a wildly successful journalist on social media, and he reaches out daily to millions of people with his words and tales of life as a queer boy.

Despite all of this, it seems like he isn’t as confident being in the spotlight as he thought. Cal’s father is a famous pilot, and with fame comes great opportunities – opportunities that manifest themselves to Cal’s father in the form of a transfer to NASA’s first mission to Mars.

At first, Cal couldn’t be more excited, but when they arrive in the compound, things start to heat up, and he’s never been more at the center of attention. The surprise? He doesn’t like it. Not at all. The chaos is all around him – real TV cameras, the expectations of millions… It’s all too much.

But not everything is negative in this new, science-crazy world. Cal is soon to mean Leon – another kid on the compound who feels almost exactly like he is about this whole mess.

Just as the mission grows to a climax, and things prepare for the fateful launch-off where one of the most important moments in human history will be secured, Cal and Leon feel themselves drawing closer than ever before and treading upon emotional frontiers that are as new to both of them as outer space.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper - Best Books With Gay Main Characters

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Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Although at first, it reads as a queer version of John Travolta’s ‘Grease’ – which is honestly already enough reason to give it a read – Only Most Devastated turns about and delivers much more than expected amid its well-written, emotional, and heart-gripping pages.

Ollie thinks that he has just had the best summer of his life. After all, how can you top a fling with the fun, loveable, and most of all swelteringly attractive Will Tavares? They had the time of their lives together, and things could be just beginning.

Unfortunately for him, however, as time goes on, this last doesn’t seem to be the case. Will stops texting back, Ollie and his family have to move away to a new school thanks to an emergency, and it looks like all of his dreams of perfect romance are scuttled for good.

That is until he arrives at the new school and discovers that it’s the same school that Will attends. The Will that he knew from that summer, however, seems to be a different person entirely. This Will is rough and tough, blows Ollie’s attention off as though it is nothing, and is quite generally a jerk.

Is everything lost for Ollie and the spark that he thought he had with Will, or is the person he thought he knew hiding beneath this new, unlikable façade? It won’t be easy to find out, and Ollie isn’t feeling lucky.

Best Books With Gay Main Characters - Best Books With Gay Main Characters

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

It seems that each of the lists of books with gay main characters ends up having at least one pun in it, and Autoboyography’s title makes certain that this tradition remains unbroken. Nevertheless, the book is perhaps one of the best of Christina Lauren’s extensive portfolio and connects with its readers on a level much deeper than one may expect.

Another high schooler pushed back into the closet that he has already worked so hard to get out of back in his hometown, Tanner Scott, finds everything he had slowly come to get used to torn away from under his feet by his family’s move from California to Utah.

Now he has a new school to deal with – new lessons, new teachers, and new students – and that’s not to mention having to deal with his home environment. If there’s one thing he’s not going to do, it endangers himself with making this even harder by coming out all over again. It won’t be long until everything falls apart – he knows it.

As it turns out, however, being honest about his identity isn’t the greatest danger to his first few months at Provo High. His best friend Autumn challenges him to take the exclusive, challenging ‘Seminar’, an event where honor roll students draft a book in four months, and Tanner foolishly agrees.

Now he has to write a whole book, handle the rest of his school responsibilities, and work his way tightrope that is keeping up his façade. 

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren - Best Books With Gay Main Characters

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

The reality of the world around him isn’t exactly the most inviting place to Darius Kellner. After all, all it has done is push him around and make him feel inadequate at even the most basic tasks. He’s far more comfortable in the distant worlds, and well-crafted escapes presented to him by fiction and movies, though even this harmless way of avoiding trouble earns him his father’s disapproval.

Things are soon to shake up for Darius, however. He’s soon to set out on his first trip to Iran to get to know his grandmother and the rest of his mother’s family for the first time.

At first, he isn’t sure what to think of this new world and this new sphere of people all around him, but then he meets the boy next door – a kind soul named Sohrab, who happens to also be an oncoming train into Darius’s world, obliterating all of his problems, and giving him feel that he had never known that he could feel.

Sohrab is more than happy to show Darius around and introduce him to the local culture, making him feel more at home than his own family does, and before long, the two become positively inseparable.

They do everything together, go everywhere together, and soon start to share a connection that they can’t deny for long. Darius had once not been okay at all, but now… Everything is different. Good different. Forever changed for the better different.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram - Best Books With Gay Main Characters

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The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

There’s nothing more thrilling than a spy novel, and throwing an excellent queer romance into the mix is just the cherry on the cake. A classic ‘love triangle’ tale with an unexpected – or, rather, given the context of this book, rather expected – twist that throws the worlds of all its characters on end, The Love Interest is quite simply excellent in more ways than one.

Dubbed ‘Love Interests’ due to their occupations making them quite often the manipulative fixations of their targets, Caden and Dyl are competitors both within their agency and for the hand of a girl, but things aren’t as simple as they seem between the two.

Caden is a perfect do-gooder – trained to perfection and one of the most skilled Love Interests. On the other hand, Dyl is a ‘Bad’ – shaped by his rugged attire, brash attitude, and inclination to make more enemies than friends. 

When the rivalry heats up, so does the tension between the two Love Interests, and they end up falling closer to each other than they are truly comfortable with. But there’s no stopping the draw of fate. Hate soon turns to love, and the repercussions have nothing short of a spy movie’s dramatic qualities.

The Love Interest does a remarkable job of not taking itself one hundred percent seriously, and with that, it conjures up a sharp sense of humor and a wonderfully meta approach to storytelling that makes every page a new source of laughs and rolled eyes. 

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Things always change, no matter how permanent they feel at the moment, and when the divide between childhood and the teenage years is crossed, it’s more likely for them to break than stay together. That is exactly what happened between Jude and Noah – twins who shared everything until they just… stopped.

Things came between them. Life’s situations were different than they once were. Neither of them can name a single thing, but the fact remains. They just weren’t as close as they once more.

Jude is incredibly brave and undauntable, whereas Noah is the younger sibling in spirit, if not in actuality – trying to prove himself in every way possible and always seeking to impress those around him.

Unfortunately, however, this means that he has little time to give to his own needs or to truly try to preserve the relationships in his life. He knows he’s gay – and always has – but he hasn’t quite worked out what that means for him and the rest of his life.

One half of the book – set in the past with the two still close – is told by Noah, whereas Jude relays how things are in the present and poses her hopes about a possible, more peaceful future between the two. Will their family spirit persevere despite the push and pull of outside forces, or will their journeys through life be broken forever more? That’s up for the twins to decide and fate to drive home.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson - Best Books With Gay Main Characters

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The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun Hutchinson

Dino’s used to things dying and being dead. His family runs a funeral home, after all, and he’s lived through more than his fair share of losses – one example of which being his friendship with July. July had once been his best friend, but things hadn’t worked out between them for a long time, and they hadn’t talked for what felt like forever.

However, everything turns on its head when Dino gets quite a rude shock. He learns that July has died from a sudden aneurysm and doesn’t know how to feel about it. But not everything is lost. As it turns out, July may be dead, but he’s not dead for good – at least yet.

What remains is a last chance for the two to work things out and maybe to go back on the wedge driven between them that stopped them from remaining friends. 

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried is by no means a horror novel, and the hijinks that result from this unexpected resurrection are those of the intensely humous kind. July doesn’t always understand properly what being dead means for him and causes quite a bit of chaos walking about the town.

When the end finally does come for him, however, will the two friends have to let go of each other and their fight, or will they remain too stubborn to allow life and its battles to slip away from between their fingers even now?

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun Hutchinson - Best Books With Gay Main Characters

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If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

The boy band Saturday has taken America by storm – playing in cities beyond count, filling stadiums, and inspiring countless young musicians to take their garage-band ambitions out onto the big stage. The two main acts – Ruben Montez and Zach Knight – are stats without rivals, and they know it.

The fans are adoring, the money is rolling in, and as much as the papers and news could be concerned, Saturday’s members couldn’t be having a better time of it. 

But there’s more to it than all the onlookers might think. Management is pressing in on the two, and Ruben is constantly feeling more and more pressure from the big lie he’s been telling for as long as they’ve been famous. He’s gay – there’s no doubt about it – and there’s no way he can keep this façade up forever. 

When the band has to reschedule their tour and ends up arching through Europe at breakneck speed from show to show, the two find themselves cracking under pressure and coming to question everything that they’ve gotten used to enjoying over their high-flying careers thus far. Is it worth seeing so much success if they can never enjoy that success as their true selves? 

As some gaps widen and others close altogether, Ruben and Zach find themselves falling head over heels for one another, and the only question left is one that neither of them wants to ask. What exactly will come to pass if this gets out?

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich - Best Books With Gay Main Characters

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Running With Lions by Julian Winters

The Bloomington High School Lions are shaping up to make this year the best in Sebastian Hughes’ life. He loves playing soccer, and this is the perfect place for him to do it.

Everything seems to have fallen into place – he loves his teammates, their coach is an absolute legend, and he’s been able to come out and be himself with no negative repercussions. How could anything possibly get better than it is now?

As things turn out, however, that feeling of success is fleeting, and a rude awakening is not far behind. Just as Sebastian begins to feel like their team might have a shot at rising to excellency, his old childhood friend Emir Shah shows up at training one day and sinks his fantasy right out in open water.

What had once been a safe place is now gone. The two hadn’t exactly parted on good terms, and now with Emir’s return, everything he had known about the Lions was different. 

Although things start hard for Sebastian and Emir, it doesn’t take long before the two regain each others’ trust and more. Soon they are closer than ever before, and their fateful reunion turns into an act of Cupid’s fate.

Where soccer and the Lions had once saved him from being pushed to the social outsides of the school and his social life as a bisexual teenager, Sebastian now has the courage, the power, and the love to make it on his own.

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